By Joel Richardson
An article in the Orange County Register reports that Rick Warren, the man dubbed “America’s Pastor,” has launched a new program called “King’s Way,” the purpose of which is to promote peace and unity between Muslims and Christians.
As part of their effort to promote their mutual goals, Warren’s pastoral staff and local Muslim leaders have co-authored a document outlining the points of agreement between Muslims and Christians. It affirms that both Muslims and Christians together believe in “one God” and share the “love of God” and “love of neighbor.”
The document also include a mutual commitment to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes verses from the Bible and the Quran side-by-side as the authoritative basis to support its goals.
According to Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a Los Angeles mosque, King’s Way represents opening “a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.”
But beyond this, according to Turk, both groups also agreed not to evangelize each other.
What becomes immediately apparent is that while making friends with Muslims is certainly an admirable goal, as I also strive toward this goal, Warren has prioritized the three goals of making friends, building peace and working together on shared social service projects over and above the commandment of Jesus to baptize and make disciples of the whole world.
Warren has made statements to the effect that the Orange County Register article contained errors. The editors have disagreed, arguing that all of their facts are entirely accurate.
One critic has accurately commented that rather than obeying the Great Commission and creating disciples of the Jesus of the Bible, Warren is “building a Tower of Babel that leads to nowhere.”
I would agree in that when Christian groups join together with other groups that have such fundamentally divergent goals and doctrines, the danger is always compromise. Throughout the Old Testament, the commandment of God to the Israelites was to never enter into agreements, covenants or marriages with the surrounding peoples, lest the Israelites would find themselves led away to worship other gods. In such a post-modern culture, these concepts may sound amazingly intolerant, but the wisdom of the Lord’s proscription against treaties and partnerships is seen in Warren’s agreement not to evangelize his Muslim “friends” and co-laborers for mutual social causes.
The commandment is no less pressing today. The concept of holiness biblically has always revolved around the idea of separation. The Lord takes covenants, agreements and partnerships very seriously and commands us not to enter into partnerships with those who possess such antagonistic views toward the most essential biblical doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Divine sonship of Jesus. Beyond this, while the ultimate emphasis of biblical hope is messianic, looking for the return of Jesus, Muslims await another Jesus who returns to literally abolish Christianity. If Warren was pursuing friendships for the purpose of evangelism, I would openly stand with him in this goal. But I think it is clear that Warren is pursuing an agenda far more in line with the spirit of the age than with the goals of the early Christian Church.
Of course, Warren has already faced his share of criticism in the past from some evangelicals who argue that he is promoting “Chrislam,” a vague term used to refer to the unholy merging of Islam and Christianity. On his Pastors.com website, Warren has categorically denied the claims, stating that the “rumor is 100 percent false. … My life and ministry are built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority.”
Warren’s Muslim neighbor has commented that he was neighbors with Warren for years before he found out that he was a Christian. While it is apparent that Warren emphasizes friendship and neighborliness, in light of such comments, one must wonder how much value Pastor Warren truly places on Christian evangelism.
Gwynne Guibord, an Episcopal priest and co-founder of a Los Angeles outreach group that fosters relationships between Christians and Muslims, says, “I think that many evangelicals feel a mandate to convert people to Christianity.”
Other well-known evangelicals have agreed with Guibord’s rejection of efforts to convert others to Christianity. Carl Medearis, an American speaker on the subject of Islam and Christianity, in comments posted on the Biblical Missiology website, stated, “Encouraging people to join the religion of Christianity is actually heresy. Jesus would have been against it if there were a religion called Christianity (which there wasn’t, of course).”
But Medearis and other critics of the concept of “Christianity” fail to consider 1 Peter 4:16-17 where the apostle made the following very clear statement: “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Beyond this, Jesus’ commandment to baptize and make disciples in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is an unequivocal call to make converts who make public confessions and identify with a visible community and a specific creed.
In response to what many pastors, theologians and missiologists feel is a wide-spread slide toward compromise and outright syncretism, several scholarly and media-related works have recently been produced.
Addressing the slide toward compromise and heresy within the missions movement, missiologists Joshua Lingel, Jeff Morton and Bill Nikides have recently co-edited a book titled, “Chrislam: How Missionaries are Promoting an Islamized Gospel.” Nikides has also produced a documentary film titled “Half Devil – Half Child,” which addresses the trend within the evangelical missions movement to promote what is often referred to as “C5,” the “Insider Movement,” or “Chrislam.” This method of outreach to Muslim encourages Christians to adopt Muslim identities and religious culture for the purpose of what might be viewed as “stealth evangelism.” According to the film’s website:
“‘Half Devil – Half Child’ brings the impact of this approach onto the screen and into our lives, illustrating the ways in which we engineer solutions that we believe will build the Kingdom of God. Solutions that, despite our best intentions, lead to unintended consequences. … ‘Half Devil – Half Child’ brings us all – Westerners and Asian Christians – face-to-face. It’s time for us to stop forcing our agenda, listen to what our Asian counterparts believe they truly need, and genuinely collaborate in this gospel mission.”
While some may argue that Rick Warren’s efforts are in line with what they understand to be the mission of the Church, the slippery slope is seen in syncretistic expression and practices of the Insider Movement, which may truly be called “Chrislam.” While Warren and numerous other well-meaning Christian(?) missionaries who endorse and practice the C5 or Insider methodology believe that they are serving Jesus, their methods always lead to dishonesty, blurring the lines of truth, compromise and eventually outright heresy.
Don’t miss Joel Richardson’s new DVD set, “The Return Is Near: Strategic Insights into the Most Important Moment in History” and understand the significance of the Muslim’s Mahdi ‘messiah’ in his book, “The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast.”
Joel Richardson is the author of “Islamic Antichrist,” published by WND books, and “Why we Left Islam” and is the co-author with Walid Shoebat of “God’s War on Terror.” His blog is www.Joelstrumpet.com.